Tag: robin

The First Day of Spring

The First Day of Spring

 

Today, 20th March 2016, is officially the first day of spring in the UK.

Well, winter seems to still be keeping a cold grip so far. with only two or three sunny warmer days last week.

Yesterday morning, I was sitting in our back garden reading and drinking a breakfast coffee, when I spotted delightful House Sparrows frenetically flying about among our garden bushes, looking for food and more importantly for them, nesting material to build their nests. I have watched starlings do the  same too.

Three Robins collecting nest material in our garden

Male House Sparrows foraging for nesting material – photo by PH Morton

This activity always signals that spring is in the air, especially for nesting birds;)

I witness the antics of the birds coming to grips with various sizes of twigs, dried grass/leaves and other suitable material foraged from our and other local gardens.

Some birds seem daft as they hold the material in their beaks, then get the urge to communicate with other birds tweeting away nearby, and so drop their hard-won twig etc often from our house roof gutter!

Each spring, sparrows used to nest in a small hole in the eaves of our house roof in our back garden. These sparrows were subsequently dispossessed by larger starlings, who will once again move in this year.

We are fortunate to have a reasonable size population of House Sparrows in our local gardens as sadly they are in decline in many parts of the UK.

We think that having many bushes, and some trees in our and neighbouring gardens which provide food, safe habitation and location for nests for garden birds helps keeps the local sparrow population stable

We also have our garden robins, who also nest in the bushes.

Our pet budgerigar hears these birds singing through the window and will noisily cheep & twitter back 🙂

Hope is the thing with feathers

I love this poem by the American poet, Emily Dickinson. It is full of optimism. She compared that thing that we all rely on most of the time to a bird that would twit no matter what the weather is. It would always be there without fail. It makes me hopeful! 🙂

robin

Robin in midtwit, Photo by PH Morton

Hope is the thing with feathers

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

The Christmas Robin

IMG_0532

The Christmas Robin

The snows of February had buried Christmas
Deep in the woods, where grew self-seeded
The fir-trees of a Christmas yet unknown,
Without a candle or a strand of tinsel.

Nevertheless when, hand in hand, plodding
Between the frozen ruts, we lovers paused
And ‘Christmas trees!’ cried suddenly together,
Christmas was there again, as in December.

We velveted our love with fantasy
Down a long vista-row of Christmas trees,
Whose coloured candles slowly guttered down
As grandchildren came trooping round our knees.

But he knew better, did the Christmas robin —
The murderous robin with his breast aglow
And legs apart, in a spade-handle perched:
He prophesied more snow, and worse than snow.

Robert Graves, Collected Poems (1938).

A wonderful seasonal poem evocative of deep winter.

We have our own garden Robin probably we see regularly even in winter. He is tame, follows us around our back garden  and almost like one of the family. 🙂

Our garden Robin

Our garden Robin

The legend of the Christmas Robin

On that first Christmas,  the night was  bitterly  cold.

Mother Mary worried that her so special baby sleeping in the manger within the small stable in Bethlehem would be cold as the fire was small and dying out. She turned to the animals surrounding  her and asked them for help.

“Could you blow on the embers,” she asked the ox, “so the fire might continue to keep my son warm?”

But the ox lay deeply asleep on the stable floor and did not hear her.

Mary then asked the donkey to breathe life back into the fire, but the donkey was also deep asleep. The  horse or sheep could not help. She wondered what to do.

A flutter of tiny wings was heard by Mary. Looking up, she saw a plain, brown-coloured little robin fly into the stall. This robin had heard the call of Mary and had come to help her.

He flew over to the dying fire and flapped his wings as hard as he could.

His wings became little bellows, blowing  air onto the embers, which began to glow bright red again. He continued fanning the fire, singing all the while, until the ashes began to kindle.

The Robin hopped around looking for dry fresh twigs and sticks. Using his beak, he tossed them into the fire. A bright strong red flame suddenly burst up and burned the little bird’s breast a bright red. The Robin ignored the burn and continued to fan the fire until it flamed higher crackled brightly and warmed the whole stable. The Baby Jesus slept happily.

Mary was so grateful & thankfully praised the robin for all his valuable efforts. She looked on tenderly at his red breast, burned by the flame, and said “From now on, let your red breast be a blessed reminder of your noble deed.”

And to this day, the robin’s red breast covers his humble and noble  heart.

Robin Red-Breast in our Garden

Little Robin Redbreast

LITTLE Robin Redbreast sat upon a tree,
Up went Pussy cat, and down went he;
Down came Pussy cat, and away Robin ran;
Says little Robin Redbreast, “Catch me if you can.”
Little Robin Redbreast jump’d upon a wall,
Pussy cat jump’d after him, and almost got a fall,
Little Robin chirp’d and sang, and what did Pussy say?
Pussy cat said “Mew,” and Robin jump’d away.

Robin Red-Breast in our Garden

The songs of the birds and insects wordlessly transmit the law of the universe.
– Hong Zicheng

ALL ABOUT THE ROBIN

One of the first birds to return in the spring—migrates north early in March—sometimes remains during winter—stays north as late as October or November.

Domestic—generally preferring to live near the home of man.

Song—though short and always the same is in tone wonderfully expressive of happiness, love, anger, or fear, as the case may be.

Black head—wings and tail brown—touches of white on throat—entire breast a rusty red.—Female duller and paler in colouring, growing almost as bright as the male in the autumn.

Food—principally insects and worms—does not disdain fruit, berries, cherries, etc., but prefers insect food—a ravenous eater.

Nest—outer layer composed of sticks, coarse grasses, etc., seemingly rather carelessly arranged—on this the rather large round nest is woven with grasses—plastered with mud—lined with softer grasses.

Eggs—greenish blue—four in number—young have black spots on breast—generally two broods reared in a season—sometimes three.

A robin redbreast in a cage

Puts all heaven in a rage

A dovehouse filled with doves and pigeons

Shudders hell through all its regions

A dog starved at his master’s gate

Predicts the ruin of the state

– William Blake

Robin in our ‘hood

Robin Photo by P H Morton

Robin
Photo by P H Morton

 

This robin has been a regular in our garden that he has become a part of our family.  It is so tamed that he doesn’t mind when we move around in the garden.  He follows us sometimes and seems curious on what is going on.  There is a particular corner in our garden that he seems to venture into and we think he roosts there at night.

I supposed our garden in ideal for him as we have got a pond and sometimes we leave him food.

Spring is almost here and we hope that we will see this red-breasted chap again.

Superstitions:

On St Valentine’s Day, if woman sees a robin flying overhead, she will marry a sailor. 🙂

Dawn Chorus

As spring approaches, I look forward to the full dawn chorus of birdsong that gently wakes me up earlier as the day light gets longer. During the darker months from early November through to mid-March, birds can be heard to perform from around 5am to 6am. In the summer months with warmer and longer days, the bird song increases and can start at 3am. I am a fairly light sleeper and for as long as I can remember, the dawn chorus has gently woken me at times, being nature’s nicest post nocturnal alarm.
We call it birdsong, maybe it should be called melodic speaking as the birds are calling and announcing that they are alive and awake in their territory, looking for food and a mate 😉

We live in North West London, blessed with an abundance of parks, gardens and trees for birds to roost & occupy.
In cold dark winter only a few brave and hardy birds can be heard singing. However in spring then to summer, the avian aria choir has grown, as migrating birds have returned from their summer holidays in warmer climes. Lying in bed I sometimes can hear the calls of some individual birds, who keep good time most days!

Blackbirds, house sparrows and robins like to lead the singing then comes the cawing of crows.

Even before before sunlight starts to appear some birds want to be the first act!

Even late at night, occasionally we can hear some bird singing long after roosting time, this could be because of the ever bright streetlights confuse some birds?

Some years ago at the begining of a summers day, I took my then young son for a dawn walk up to near by Hampstead Heath. It was about 5am, the sun was up and it’s golden light streaming through the tree branches,making the leaves translucent green, the  ‘wall of sound’ of birdsong that came from surrounding trees was amazing!

A full dawn chorus lasts anything from an hour to an hour and a half. Sadly ever increasing traffic noise in early mornings can disrupt or drown out the chorus.

Scientists have warned that disrupting the early-morning ritual which males use to attract mates could lead to a decline in the bird population.

Noise pollution also drowns out the sound of approaching predators and blocks warning calls, leaving birds open to danger.

In some urban areas, birds are singing at a higher pitch or louder, to avoid being drowned out. Some robins have even opted to forsake the dawn and sing during the relative quiet of night instead if not confused by street light polution.

Even our pet budgie Bert joins in tweeting ( not on a mobile phone :)) when he hears his birdie brethren outside sounding forth at breakfast time!

I feel priviliged to still be able to hear this wonderful sound every day, whether as a curtain raiser to dawn or when early morning sunlight streams through the window curtains.

I hope that this wondrous melody of mother nature never fades…

Early morning singer our garden Robin

Our resident robin an early morning singer in our garden-photo by Peter

 

dawn_chorus-graphic

dawn_chorus-graphic

 

Enjoy and relax with the sounds of summer dawn birdsong 🙂